Dealing With Gender Issues

Dear Sara,

My ten-year-old daughter is not very feminine. She dresses like a boy and avoids skirts and dresses and fancy shoes. Her name is Brianna and she wants to be called Brian or Bri. She has two older brothers so this could be part of how she behaves. I can accept whatever she becomes but I really wanted a little girl. Is there anything I can do to get her to be more feminine?
-Jillian




Dear Jillian,

Kids sometimes get crazy ideas in their head and will tend to stick with them for a while. At ten she’s not exactly set in her ways. She would probably enjoy some more attention from you so try to do something with her that you both can enjoy. Don’t try to change her or pay to much attention to her choice of clothes. You probably won’t know her true feelings until she gets older.
-Sara

Encouraging Kids To Go To College

Dear Sara,

I have three-month-old twins and a three-year-old. I decided to get married instead of going to college and I’m happy enough but I really would like to see my kids get a college education. What can I do to encourage them?
-Sadie




Dear Sadie,

The very most important thing you can do for your children is to encourage them to read. Read to them when they are infants and preschoolers. When they are old enough take them to the library and let them choose their own books. If the library has programs for children let them participate. A love of reading will last a lifetime. Even if your children read things you don’t consider worthwhile they are learning vocabulary and picking up pieces of information.
When they are old enough for school, get involved and get to know their teachers. If they are having problems you will be on top of it. It will be difficult but try to control the amount of time they spend on the TV and Internet. They will learn things there but they have to have more interests in their life than this. Guide them while you can. They will be more independent as they get older.
-Sara

How Will My Baby Turn Out?

Dear Sara,

I am pregnant with my first baby. We used artificial insemination because my husband didn’t have any viable sperm. It took some time to adjust to everything and now we are happy to be pregnant. I don’t know why but I keep worrying about what kind of person my baby will be. Will he or she inherit some personality trait that will make problems? I can’t believe I decided on doing this and now I’m worrying about it.
-Eva



Dear Eva,

Any pregnancy is a combination of genetics from both partners. Our control of this is nil (there are people who experiment with this but it’s not common). There are recessive genes that don’t show up until there is a right combination. Just because the sperm was donated doesn’t mean that it is flawed any more than if it was you husband’s. A lot of how your child turns out depends on your parenting and your own disposition. Your child learns from you how to act and behave. Be consistent and fair and give him or her lots of love. Every Mom worries about her baby. It just means you want the best possible life for your wonderful new baby.

Good luck.
-Sara

Preventing Overweight Children

Dear Sara,

I have two kids ages eight and ten and they are beginning to be overweight. They are more interested in TV, computer and phones than actually doing anything physical. Mom also buys junk for them that they can eat whenever they want. I know this is not good for them but I let it go on because I’m not sure what to do. Any suggestions?
-David




Dear David,

It’s time for you to get more involved. The kids need to get out of the house and use their muscles. If nothing else get them out of the house for a walk after dinner two or three times a week. On the weekends maybe you could ride bikes to the park. Try to get your wife involved in the kids’ health and fitness too. Their diet needs to have less high-calorie snacks and more fruit and vegetables. Kids can have the same problems as adults if allowed to become obese. Things like high blood pressure, clogged arteries, breathing difficulties and weak bones caused by a lack of mineral-rich diet and regular exercise. The more overweight your kids become the harder it will be to change things. Get involved now.
-Sara

Double Date To Prom

Dear Sara,

My son is sixteen but doesn’t drive yet. His best friend has a license and they want to double date to the junior prom. This worries me because I have seen his friend when he smelled like alcohol and seemed really happy. I feel like my son would be in danger if this kid decided to drink and drive. How should I handle this situation? My son won’t be happy if I say no to their plans.
-Amanda




Dear Amanda,

If you haven’t talked to your son about your suspicions about his friend you need to do this first. You might consider helping your son get his own drivers license so he won’t be dependent on his friend for transportation. Sixteen-year-olds shouldn’t be drinking but they think they are already grown up. Your son may be upset but you can’t let him go out with a teen who may drink and drive.
-Sara

Job Or Graduate School?

Dear Sara,

I have a daughter in college and she wants to go to graduate school. She will be graduating soon and has already been offered a job. We have paid for her tuition and feel like it’s time for her to go to work and support herself. She says she won’t be able to get the kind of job she wants without at least a Masters degree. Apparently, she’s already applied to several schools. How can I convince her to take the job and forget about graduate school? She’s really stubborn.
-Anna




Dear Anna,

Apparently, your daughter has made up her mind. This doesn’t mean that you have to pay for her tuition. She needs to figure that out on her own. She has depended on you for four years and should be grateful for your help. If she feels that further education is critical then she will figure out how to pay for it. Lot’s of young people leave school with the debt of student loans. Your daughter is old enough to think for herself. You probably won’t change her mind by refusing to pay for her tuition.
-Sara

Disciplining A Child With Autism

Dear Sara,

My sister has a fifteen-year-old son with autism and I sometimes help out by letting him stay at my house when he’s not in school and she needs a break. He likes pencils and pens and takes all of mine home in his backpack. He also goes behind my back and pinches my elbows. I don’t know how to discipline him as he doesn’t seem to understand or change no matter what I do. Is there anything I can do to make him see that what he’s doing isn’t good?
-Claire




Dear Claire,

On his occasional visits to you, there is probably not much you can do to change your nephew’s behavior. He doesn’t process information the same way as you do and needs long term help. Your sister needs you to be there to help when she needs a break and this is what you need to keep in mind. She deals with her son’s problems on a daily basis and knows that change is going to be slow. Hide your pens and pencils and wear long sleeved shirts. You are giving your sister the break she needs.
-Sara

Bully Brother

Dear Sara,

I am eleven years old. My brother is fourteen. He isn’t very nice to me. He calls me fatty and makes fun of my clothes. He sometimes pinches me on the arm or on my back. It really hurts and makes bruises. He won’t let me watch the programs I like on TV when he is at home. I sometimes want to run away. I tell my parents but they think it’s just normal teasing from a brother. What can I do to make him stop?
-Kaylee




Dear Kaylee,

You are right. these things your brother does are abusive. If he’s leaving bruises show these to your parents. The things he says to you are not good for your self-esteem. At eleven it’s hard for you to take up for yourself and you need an adult to help you. Keep telling your parents how you feel and if they won’t help you then confide in a teacher or counselor at school. I hope things get better for you soon.
Sara

Clashing With Parents Over Freedom

Dear Sara,

I am sixteen years old and my parents are trying to control my life. They want me to go to college so they go over my class schedule and tell me which classes to take. They insist that I keep my grades up to a B average or I can’t go out on the weekends. On school nights I have to be in bed by 10:00 PM with my homework already done. I feel like they are on my case every minute of the day. I feel suffocated by their constant attention. How can I get them to ease up?
-Jenna




Dear Jenna,

It sounds like your parents really care about you and your future well being. If they didn’t care they might let you do whatever you want. At sixteen you probably think that you are grown and can think for yourself. You parents have “been there done that” and can see that a good education is a foundation that you need to have success in life. As you get older you will have more freedom and will be able to make your own decisions. Right now you have to listen to your parents. Be glad you have parents who care about your future welfare.
-Sara

I Think My Husband Is Cheating

Dear Sara,

I think my husband is cheating on me. He goes out every Friday night and says he’s going to the gym. I also found out that he has been taking really long lunch breaks a couple of times a week. Last week I found a condom in his jacket pocket. We have four teenage kids and I really think a divorce would be hard on them and I don’t want to be on my own. How should I handle this?
-Jenna




Dear Jenna,

You probably have two choices, Ignore or confront. If you choose to ignore what is going on you probably will be unhappy but your life will go on as usual. His relationship could end and things would go back to normal or he could become serious in his relationship and ask for a divorce. If you confront him things could go either way again. If your relationship has been fairly happy before this you might suggest marriage counseling and try to work things out. If this is not a serious relationship you could have a chance of saving your marriage and making it stronger. Let your husband know that you care about him and you want to save your marriage. I hope things work out.
-Sara